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Hair pulling
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Hair pulling

My grandaughter will be 2 in July.  She has started pulling her own hair out so badly that she has bald spots.  Her parents don't see her doing it, but they find it on her hands.  She seems to do it worse during the night because they find it in her bed.  What could be causing her to do this?
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242606_tn?1243786248
Dear Ms. Whittington,

Such behavior, referred to as trichotillomania, is a type of impulse control disorder. My guess is that the child tugs, pulls, twists, etc. her hair as a form of self-soothing when she is in her bed.

This behavior can be particularly difficult to change, at least on the short term. If the child has some object, such as a blanket or stuffed animal, that can help her feel comfortable, it can help.

Is she under any sort of overt, obvious stress? This can bring on the behavior, or at least exacerbate it.

Another possible cause for pulling hair is distress at bedtime, when some children are angry and frustrated and pull their hair as an expression of their rage. This is different from trichotillomania, and generally stops as children become adjusted to falling asleep on their own.
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